From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Butterfly House, called “brazen and original” by The Toronto Star, comes a timely, suspenseful, and darkly original new novel about a missing child and the web of lies that has threatened his life—and may prevent him from ever being found.
When fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff disappears, the police assume he’s simply a runaway—a typically overlooked middle child doing what teenagers do all around the world. But his frantic family is certain that something terrible has happened. After all, what runaway would leave behind a note that reads:
He looked around and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free.
It’s not much to go on but it’s all that detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner have. And with every passing hour, as the odds of finding a missing person grow dimmer, it will have to be enough.
The disappearance of 15-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff drives Engberg's engrossing third novel featuring Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner (after 2020's The Butterfly House). When Oscar's affluent parents, who own an auction house, find a cryptic, threatening note addressed to them in their kitchen, they're convinced Oscar is being held ransom. Soon, Oscar's Danish teacher, Malthe Saether, is found strangled. Convinced that Oscar's apparent kidnapping and Malthe's death are tied together, Jeppe and Anette begin their investigation, aided by a large cast of supporting characters, all of whom, like retired academic Esther de Laurenti (who had a lead role in 2019's The Tenant), are delightfully fleshed out. Meanwhile, Jeppe struggles to maintain an amicable relationship with his girlfriend's daughters, and Anette becomes attracted to one of the witnesses. The plot takes some unexpected turns as the detectives unearth some shocking secrets involving fraud and pornography en route to the satisfying conclusion. Readers will eagerly await Jeppe and Anette's next case. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden).